Drew Zeiba, writing for Vulture:

Refusing to be an artist-as-public figure in the era of social media seems almost reckless — like willful career suppression, if not suicide. As one recent art school graduate put it to me, Instagram has reached the level of “infrastructure.” And certainly, Instagram may at first seem like a boon to many artists — a form of social media centered on images. But artists are starting to feel that it’s just become an addiction, devouring their creativity.

Can You Make It As an Artist in 2018 Without Constantly Plugging Yourself on Instagram?


Signed up for ProtonMail today. Personally I’m not as freaked out as everyone else regarding Google’s use of my email for ads; but just in case I care more later I’ve got a back up.

EDIT: I actually already had an account, which I forgot about till I went to sign up. This time I reserved my preferred username.


WELL, it’s done. After just a few days on the free trial of, I’ve decided to really give old fashioned blogging another all-in go. My whole site is now imported and hosted on I even added the podcasting upgrade because why not?


My ballerina princess is performing tonight.

A concise case for the reasonableness of classical, creedal Christianity


Classical, creedal Christianity is reasonable because:

  1. Theism (the belief that there is a supreme being of some kind) is a reasonable explanation for fine-tuning of the universe, the intuitive realm of objective moral values, and the universal phenomenon of transcendent longing.

  2. A movement of invidividuals and groups grew quickly and unexpectly–against many opposing forces including embarrassment, social rejection, and open persecution–with a relatively unified, coherent, remarkably durable and reliable witness to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

  3. The resulting meta-physical and philosophical frameworks have deep explanitory power in regards to the human condition, the problem of suffering, consistent morals and ethics, and living the good life.

  4. My own experience of living in the story of Christianity has ignited faith, hope, and love in my own heart, and I continually see it doing the same in others–both in history and in the present.


Can’t imagine life without Amber. So beautiful, smart, tough, patient, godly, loving, kind, thoughtful, inspiring. Amazing partner in life.


Possible solutions for fixing my terrible posture:

  1. A cushion for the car or office, $25

  2. A rather innovative and smart-looking chair that will force me to sit correctly, $99


Woke up this morning with some brutal back pain. My terrible posture has finally caught up with me. Can’t say I wasn’t warned.


Question: What would you do?

As I move toward a more human, personal, relational way of blogging, should I move my blog from to Is it worth the hassle? Or should I just stick with the .com?


Out for a lunt this afternoon. C&D Nutty Irishman in my MM Carolina Gent cob.


As I consider switching totally to, I’m thinking deeply on the appeal, and what my reservations about switching are. I think it’s a worthy exercise, because I spend a significant amount of time online, and a significant amount of time writing and publishing ideas and art (side note–really getting tired of the sterile term “content”). could help by giving me some needed and sensible contraints, removing friction for creation, and so on. However a few of those contraints have given me pause and caused me to take a deeper, more honest look at what I want to accomplish by publishing online.

For instance, there are no post stats. How will I see what posts are popular? This has been so integrated into the Wordpress/Tumblr/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram experience for so long I’ve taken it for granted. I even emailed support to ask about it. Turns out I could use a solution like Google Analytics if I want to take the time. But why do I care?

Because, to be honest, I have blogged for many years (mostly half-heartedly, but still) with an intent to “establish authority” and “build a platform” so that I might be able to one day support myself financially via my writing and creativity. Gearing my writing toward what people want to read (expressed in clicks) is an important part of that, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that in principle.

So, I’ve often worked on optimizing my site and my (here’s the dreaded word) “content” for that. Thing is, I neither have time, nor inclination to do that kind of blog full-time at this juncture in life (though I did a few years ago). In terms of time and energy, I just can’t approach blogging like job right now. I have family, friends, and a vocation that I love and joyfully choose to spend most of my time and energy in those places. Right now, I also want to write what I want to write and publish the creative work I want to publish simply as a way to express myself and have fun in the context of an online community, regardless of how well it fits in a “niche-market.”

Of course, I’m not opposed to making money online, selling creative work and services, and so on. Sometimes a kind of blogging is a super important part of that for some people, and I’m not knocking it in principle. In fact, I do hope that I continue to make some sales of my courses and ebooks from my website as a side gig, but I must say that a lot of the techniques and ideas that are put forth as “essential” for “success” have always rubbed me the wrong way.

A move to full-time for my online “home” represents to me a definitive “moving on” from that kind of blogging–that way of optimizing for search and clicks and sales–and focusing more on the relational, personal side of blogging. A different emphasis for a different time in my life, and different approach to helping people through what and how I choose to publish.

The idea of it feels very good.


I have customized my micro blog (say that 10 times fast) and I really really like the simplicity of this platform. It reminds me a lot of the early days of Tumblr, and I feel like WordPress is just becoming too much for what I want to do and what I really need in a blog/website. I LOVE that is all about simpliclity, minimalism, and MARKDOWN.

5 days left on the free trial.

# is interesting, but could it replace my self-hosted Wordpress blog I’ve been using for 10+ years at

What can wash away my sin?


What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain: Oh! precious is the flow That makes me white as snow; No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see, Nothing but the blood of Jesus; For my cleansing this my plea, Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Nothing can for sin atone, Nothing but the blood of Jesus; Naught of good that I have done, Nothing but the blood of Jesus. This is all my hope and peace, Nothing but the blood of Jesus; This is all my righteousness, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

A prayer before meditation


Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World - New book from Cal Newport


Cal Newport is releasing a new book called Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World . I loved his book Deep Work, so you can be sure I’ve already pre-ordered this one.

The brain drain of your smartphone


Your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach — even if it’s off — suggests new research. — Read on

Why I am not a determinist


It is sometimes asserted that evil is not simply allowed but “ordained and guided” by God for the purposes of a grand narrative; it serves the “story” he is telling in creation. I think I get where people that hold this view are coming from, and I agree that the system (usually connected with Calvinism) has a high degree of explanatory power if you grant all of the inherent assumptions and interpretations of the biblical text.

That said, I find the deterministic view quite unsatisfying from biblical, theological, and pastoral points of view. Unfortunately I think the “God as author” metaphor (often very useful) is usually pushed to the breaking point and beyond.

While we do see a robust assertion of the sovereignty of God in the Bible (and I would never want to undermine this), in my opinion we can press the concept too far so as to undermine the true moral agency of human beings. God can be sovereign (in charge, in control, etc) without being a micro-manager.

My conviction is that while God’s ultimate purposes will necessarily come to fruition, the ways in which he accomplishes them depend on free moral agents like humans and angels. In other words, he works all things for his purposes in the context of respecting the free will of his created beings. In the process, God’s immediate desires and will can be resisted and even frustrated. For instance, take the story of the flood:

“And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” (Genesis 6:6, ESV)

At least in some sense, God wished for a different outcome for humanity that didn’t happen in the moment.

In the New Testament, human beings are even given the agency to “quench the Spirit.” (1 Thes 5:19)

It doesn’t seem logically or theologically consistent to me that God would ordain and guide someone to quench the Spirit!

So, I suppose the idea of humans as truly free moral agents is where the “God-as-author” analogy breaks down for me. This is often addressed in a variety of ways rarely deals openly with the elephant in the room: characters on a page are completely pre-determined from start to finish. They have no agency of their own. Humans, however, clearly do.

The abundance of Wisdom literature in the Bible itself also lends support to the conclusion that we may make real choices that have real consequences in this life. It seems to me that we could encompass this in the author metaphor, perhaps by saying God has written the beginning and the end of the Story, and invites us to join him as junior co-authors in the middle.

In Lamentations, there’s quite a bit about both Good and Bad coming from God (mostly in the context of punishment/consequences of sin), and yet there’s this remarkable passage as well:

“For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:31–33, ESV)

So, I would say that a very rigid deterministic framework doesn’t quite jive with the whole biblical story. At the same time, neither does a Deistic, distant, “hands-off” conception of God. I think we have to keep the both the ultimate control of God and the real freedom of human beings (and Satan) in tension, and be careful not to attribute evil to God.

His perfect will is overwhelmingly revealed in Jesus, who heals, restores, redeems, loves.

This ESV Journaling New Testament could be a game changer for study and sermon prep


The Productive Pastor, Chad Brooks, just posted a pic of his study notes on Instagram. I had to ask him what Bible he was using. Turns out it was the new ESV Journaling New Testament, Inductive Edition.

I sometimes create my own version of this via copy & paste and Word, but this bound version of the New Testament text with wide margins and super-generous line spacing could really facilitate meditation, lectio divina, observation notes, definitions, etc. As such, it could also be a great volume to preach from if you wrote your notes directly in the text below each verse…certainly something to think about!

Buy on Amazon

Related: How and why you should keep a prayer journal

This is where I do ministry


This is the neighborhood where I do ministry–Sunnyslope in Phoenix, AZ. A place of striking beauty, intense need, and full of amazing people.

Why Christians are always talking about the blood of Jesus


This week we were listening to Spotify in our home and the song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 came on. My son Jensen wanted to know if it was about Jesus ? It was a reasonable question, because Christianity talks a lot about blood. And it’s weird, let’s be honest. We talk about being “washed in the blood” and we sing songs with words like “there’s power in the blood,” and my personal favorite: “there is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins.” It’s a little gross.

Have you ever wondered what’s up with the whole “blood of Jesus” thing?

Hebrews chapter 9 helps us to understand why there’s always been so much talk about blood, and why after generations of bloodshed of humans and animals Jesus’s blood is finally enough.

It helps us understand why, as an acquaintance of mine–Fr. Kenneth Tanner—often says, “the cross means no other person ever has to die again to make the world right.”

The centrality of blood goes all the way back to the Old Testament; where blood sacrifice was a ritual requirement to deal with sin as a community.

Hebrews 9:22:

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22, ESV)

Ever since sin entered the world, blood sacrifice has been required. And although it’s disturbing, it should be. That’s part of the point. In the Old Testament animal sacrifices were meant to highlight the deep brokenness of the world, our bodies, and our souls as a result of our sin.

The covenant sign between God and his people was circumcision, itself quite a bloody act. The point was to communicate under no uncertain terms that sin results in the draining of life, the dulling of our spiritual senses, and the marring of the image of God that we all bear in our bodies and souls as human beings.

In the Old Testament, we read about the Day of Atonement, when the high priest would make a blood sacrifice to symbolically cleanse and set apart the altar. He would sprinkle blood of a slain bull on it as a sign of repentance. Then he would place his hand on the head of living goat to symbolically transfer the sins of the people onto the animal, and then send it out into the wilderness to die.

I believe this was picture of sin as a disease. Without purification it infects everyone that comes close to it, rotting away at the very core of our being. It must be taken out and removed. When it runs its natural course, it results in death.

Now, certainly there was real forgiveness offered and received as the Israelites acknowledged and repented from their sin, and blood sacrifices certainly pointed to the evil of sin and its natural consequence of death, but they could not heal a broken soul. Animal blood sacrifices were never enough. There was always another sacrifice to make. Day after day, year after year.

As the author of Hebrews said, the Old Covenant sacrificial system was always just a copy, a shadow version of a spiritual reality, and a much better sacrifice than animals would be needed to affect the spiritual brokenness of the world. It’s a sacrifice that only God in-the-flesh, Jesus Christ, could make.

As one commentator says,

the high-priestly work of Christ has gone both higher and deeper than the blood shed and sprinkled under the old covenant. It has gone higher because his work carried him in definitive fashion into the true sanctuary, the Holy Place in heaven, in gaining our eternal redemption. It has gone deeper because it penetrates to the very core of our being, to the cleansing of our conscience in order that we may serve the living God.

“If the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of cows made spiritually contaminated people holy and clean, how much more will the blood of Jesus wash our consciences clean from dead works in order to serve the living God? He offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit as a sacrifice without any flaw.” (Hebrews 9:13–14, CEB)

Just like the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the Cross both cleanses and removes sin.

But because he was and is perfect, his blood is able to purify us not just on the outside as sign, but on the inside effectually—in our hearts—which works its way out into our actions. So we are delivered from sinful actions that lead only to destruction—“dead works”—and we are given a way to life.

He took all our sin on himself, the way the priest would symbolically transfer sins to the scapegoat. He removed our sin and took it into the wilderness of death itself, running sin into the ground and conquering it by his Resurrection.

So you see, there’s no need to keep sacrificing animals. There’s no need to keep sketches and shadows, when the hope to which they pointed in faith has come to fruition in Jesus Christ. Jesus meant it when he said, “it is finished. ”

The work of atonement, that is, making things right between us and God, is done. The offering Jesus made of himself has been made, accepted, and vindicated. Sin has been defeated. Forgiveness has been accomplished, and it all happened two thousand years ago. This can’t be overstated. The work is done. Christ did it. We just have to receive it as the pure gift that it is.

We can never think of what we do here at the altar (when we celebrate Holy Eucharist) as a repetition of Christ’s sacrifice.

t’s a sacrifice, to be sure, but a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise as we celebrate Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, remembering it, relying on it, receiving it, even participating in it in a mysterious way…but never repeating it.

The author of Hebrews wrote,

“He didn’t enter [heaven] to offer himself over and over again, like the high priest enters the earthly holy place every year with blood that isn’t his. If that were so, then Jesus would have to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. Instead, he has now appeared once at the end of the ages to get rid of sin by sacrificing himself. People are destined to die once and then face judgment. In the same way, Christ was also offered once to take on himself the sins of many people. He will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:25–28, CEB)

So, we know that God’s work in our lives isn’t done yet.

We’re all being sanctified, made more like Jesus every day by the Spirit. We all have some more battles to let God fight for us. We are still waiting for our ultimate salvation. But the war has been won. The disease that was killing us, the madness that was driving us toward self-destruction, the rift that was separating us from life, all that has been dealt with…and that’s Good News.

We can never work hard enough to achieve forgiveness, to try to outweigh the bad things we’ve done by offering the good things. Jesus has already done the best thing and given the greatest gift by offering himself. By cleansing us with his blood. Removing our sins from us forever.

Brothers and sisters, you can rest from trying to make forgiveness happen. The objective reality is that’s already happened! The Good News is that you didn’t do it and you can’t undo it. It is finished.

Until Monday of last week we had a cement wall by the office at the church.

It was slowly pushing a supporting post into the ground, and no matter what it was going to pierce some underground plumbing we recently repaired there. It was only a matter of time until that pipe met certain doom! I’ve known for months now that I had to remove that wall to relieve the pressure, but I haven’t been able to do it. I haven’t had the resources of time or tools to make it happen. But you know what? A young man came to me this week needing some community service hours and offered to help. I gratefully accepted that offer, and the next day I came to our campus to find the wall demolished. The work had been done for me!

Sure there’s still some clean up and restoration to do, which we will partner with our new friend to get done. But the threat to the structural integrity of our plumbing system is gone permanently. And I didn’t have do anything at all except receive it. You don’t have to do anything at all to be forgiven. Just receive it. You can do that right here, right now.

Brothers and sisters, this is what we rest in.

This is what we celebrate every Sunday. This is what we witness to and give thanks for as a community of faith: No animal, no human, ever has to die again to make the world right.

Blood sacrifice is a thing of the past. Jesus’ death put an end to death. Jesus’ blood, perfectly innocent and divinely powerful, was enough, is enough, will always be enough to cure, to cleanse, to bring life to me, you, and the whole world.

Amazing lightweight, compact, great-sounding headphones for travel. For under $20.


Wireless headphones are all the rage these days, as they should be. There’s delightful freedom in being able to start your music, podcast, or audiobook and roam about the house unteathered. Working out without wires is a true step up in terms of the quality of the experience. Add to this wireless freedom active noise canceling that can quiet ambient sounds like air conditioners, airplane engines, and the neighbor’s lawn mower, and you have a recipe for audio technology that deserves as be ubiquitous as it is. Bose, Beats, and Senheiser all deserve their place in the high-end headphones landscape.

However, these kind of headphones start at about $200 for a great experience. You can find some brands like Cowon selling similar headphones for about $50-$80, which can provide a good (though perhaps not great) experience. I have been pretty happy with some wireless, noise-canceling headphones in that price range. The thing is, wireless, noise-canceling headphones aren’t necessarily the best headphones for travel in every situation.  I found myself looking for something different for a recent trip I took. Why?

In travel, I'm mostly using my over-the-ear headphones on the airplane and waiting in the airport, or sitting in the car. The increased mobility of wireless in this situation isn't as important of an advantage. What about active noise-cancelling? I've found that it's a "nice-to-have" for me, but not a "must-have." Now, if I was going to be in noisy airport all day, every day, or if I was regularly doing long international flights, that would be one thing. But for my 2-3 four-hour flights per year, I've found that good noise-isolation is enough.

So, I found myself on the hunt for a compact, lightweight, wired pair of headphones that offered good sound, decent noise-isolation, and acceptable comfort. I had a budget of $25. I wondered if it was even possible, but then I found exactly what I was looking for in an unassuming pair from Sony.

Sony has distilled the essence of over-the-ear headphones into their MDRZX110 model, a minimalist marvel of sonic wonder. 

It comes in one color (black), and has only the features you need in a solid pair of headphones. Everything you need, nothing you don’t. Here’s why I ended up loving my Sony MDRZX110 headphones:

Headphones have come a long, long, way. In today's age of Bluetooth enable wireless headphones costing at minimum $50 or so for any kind of quality, I expected sub-$20 headphones (even wired ones) to have really weak, subpar sound. However, I am glad to say my expectations were totally wrong. Sony MDRZX110 headphones are legitimately good headphones and are a great choice for every day use and travel if you are ok with being wired in.

Get the Sony MDRZX110 headphones on Amazon.

A Christian perspective on Halloween


This is “a” Christian perspective not “the” Christian perspective in today’s world, and there’s plenty of grace to go around on how to observe (or not observe) All Hallow’s Eve. Hopefully it’s helpful to some to understand how many Christians have understood the holiday over the centuries.

Biblical thinking

If the biblical story does not control our thinking, then we will be swept into the story that the world tells about itself.
-Lesslie Newbigin

Fr. Thomas Keating has passed away

It's with great sorrow I found out today that Fr. Thomas Keating has passed away.

His writing taught me to understand how prayer can be about being with God, enjoying his presence, and not only asking God for things. He taught the Bible is meant to be prayed and to expect God to speak through it.

He taught me that one can cultivate an attitude of submission to God’s will, and understand that’s not scary because God’s will is always for my good and for greater communion with him.

For me, this was and is profound stuff in terms of deepening my communion with Christ.

May he rest In peace, and may his memory be eternal.

Statement from his organization, Contemplative Outreach

Father Thomas Keating, OCSO

March 7, 1923 - October 25, 2018

“To the worldwide community of Contemplative Outreach,

It is with deep sorrow that we share the news of the passing of our beloved teacher and spiritual father, Thomas Keating. Fr. Thomas offered his final letting go of the body on October 25, 2018 at 10:07pm at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. He modeled for us the incredible riches and humility borne of a divine relationship that is not only possible but is already the fact in every human being. Such was his teaching, such was his life. He now shines his light from the heights and the depths of the heart of the Trinity.

The monastic community from St. Benedict’s Monastery will join together with the Contemplative Outreach community for a memorial service in Denver, Colorado. The location, date and time of the memorial service will be announced shortly. The Center for Action and Contemplation will live-stream and record the service so that anyone who wishes may join remotely.

Details will be forthcoming for a 24-hour, worldwide prayer vigil, as well as suggested schedules and enrichment for local gatherings.

Please respect the privacy of St. Benedict’s Monastery and St. Joseph’s Abbey and do not call with questions.


Fr. Thomas was born in New York City in 1923 and remembers having an attraction to religious life from a young age. He started college at Yale University and then graduated from an accelerated program at Fordham University. While in college, a spiritual director at a camp where he worked took the counselors to Our Lady of the Valley Trappist Monastery in Rhode Island, which he ultimately joined in 1944. He was ordained a priest in 1949. He first came to Snowmass, Colorado in 1958 as the appointed superior to help build and run the new monastery, St. Benedict’s. In 1961 he was called back to St. Joseph’s Abbey and served as the abbot for 20 years. During that time, he was invited to Rome in 1971, following the Second Vatican Council where Pope Paul VI encouraged priests, bishops and religious scholars to renew the Christian contemplative tradition. As an answer to this call, Fr. Thomas, along with William Meninger and Basil Pennington, drew on the ancient practice of Lectio Divina and its movement into contemplative prayer, or resting in God, to develop the practice of Centering Prayer. The initial idea was to bring the contemplative practices of the monastery out into the larger Christian community by teaching priests, religious and ultimately, laypersons. After 20 years as abbot, Fr. Thomas resigned and returned to St. Benedict’s Monastery. He became more fully immersed in bringing the contemplative dimension of the Gospel to the public by co-founding Contemplative Outreach in 1984.

Another outgrowth of Vatican II was that Catholics were given permission and encouraged to acknowledge the work of the Spirit in other religions. In God is Love: The Heart of All Creation, Fr. Thomas states, “No one religion can contain the whole of God’s wisdom, which is infinite.” One of Fr. Thomas' lasting legacies is that for over 30 years, he convened inter-religious dialogue at St. Benedict’s, which became known as the Snowmass Conferences. It was an attempt to dialogue with and understand the contributions of the spiritual traditions of all religions and put to rest the cultural attitudes that lead to separation and violence.

As many of you know who have met him over the years, Fr. Thomas traveled worldwide to teach us about the Christian contemplative tradition and the psychological experience of the spiritual journey. He once told Mary Clare Fischer, a reporter for 5280 Magazine, that he thought the hardest thing about his commitment to monastic life would be the separation from the outside world because “I felt a great desire to share the treasures I had found in the way of a deeper relationship with God.” His seminal work on the Spiritual Journey Series is testament to his desire.

Within the last decade of his life, Fr. Thomas said, “I am at the point where I do not want to do anything except God’s will, and that may be nothing. But nothing is one of the greatest activities there is. It also takes a surprising amount of time! What time is left each day is an opportunity for God to take over my life more completely on every level and in every detail.” (God is Love: The Heart of All Creation).

Pat Johnson, a long-time friend and one of the founders of the retreat ministry at St. Benedict’s Monastery, had a recent conversation with Fr. Thomas wherein he expressed his gratitude for her service to Contemplative Outreach over many years. She says, “Here is this man at the end of his life, in pain, and still giving his all back into the universe. If ever I had an example of what it means to love unconditionally, this moment in time was one huge example. The greatness of his giving, the greatness of his humility, left me with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and the recognition that doing nothing takes a long, long time. … What an amazing model he is for all of us as we attempt to move through our lives with grace and strength!”

Fr. Thomas is now entrusting us to bear his message of love and transformation, to continue to pass on the wealth of the contemplative dimension of the Gospel and the method of Centering Prayer to the next generation. Just before Jesus was taken up from the disciples after his passion and resurrection, he said to them:

“It is not for you to know the times and the seasons,

which the Father has put in his own power.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you:

and you shall be my witnesses … to the ends the earth.

And when he had said these things, while they beheld,

he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight.”

- Acts 1: 7-9

Fr. Thomas is now taken from our sight. Let us open ourselves more than ever to the indwelling presence of the Trinity as we deepen our unity in prayer and service. Let us continue to persevere in our consent to the presence and action of God within us and among us and allow the inspiration and the breath of God to move us and guide us as we seek to embody and pass on the gifts we have been so privileged to receive.

With deep gratitude and hearts broken open,

The staff and governing board of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd

Copyright © 2018 Contemplative Outreach, All rights reserved.